South Africa is facing a specific, looming, tragic reality – sexual and gender based violence. The general public is well aware of the alarming statistics that are attached to the country regarding sexual and gender based violence, however, the numbers available aren’t entirely accurate. Due to the traumatic nature of the crime, not all survivors choose to report the incident. But, based on the statistics that have been recorded, 39,633 rapes and 6,253 sexual assaults were reported in 2017 alone. As a crime reporting app, it would be remiss of Spottem not to address the war that South African men have waged on women and children.
Firstly, gender based violence presents itself in many ways, such as physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, financial and structural. You can find comprehensive explanations of the different types of violence that plagues the country here.
Although perpetrators can range from a complete stranger to a partner or family member, the most common form of gender based violence is intimate partner violence. According to Safer Spaces, “More than half of all the women murdered (56%) in 2009 were killed by an intimate male partner” and “Just under 50% of women report having ever experienced emotional or economic abuse at the hands of their intimate partners in their lifetime”. There is no doubt that these stats are horrifying, which begs the question – why?
The reasons behind gender based violence are aplenty, but there is one root cause that drives this scourge – a patriarchal society and gendered power inequality. The patriarchy cultivates a society in-which male superiority, strict gender roles and toxic masculinity run rampant. These key factors then work hand in hand with drivers like social, religious and cultural norms, poor levels of women empowerment and support, socio-economic inequality, and substance abuse. According to an Evidence Report by Rukia Cornelius, Thea Shahrokh and Elizabeth Mills, gender based violence “pervades the political, economic and social structures of society and is driven by strongly patriarchal social norms and complex and intersectional power inequalities, including those of gender, race, class and sexuality.”
Gender based violence is a monumental human rights violation. Although there are programmes and organisations dedicated to the eradication of it, a severe multifaceted response and commitment is needed from all entities in South Africa. This includes the government, stakeholders, civil societies, and men in particular. Gender based violence isn’t a woman issue, it is a human issue and requires a collective effort to combat it.
Here is a list of support systems you can contact should you fall victim to gender based violence.
Spottem is free to download and is available on both Android and iOS devices.